Here are some brief thoughts on the second presidential debate (I don’t want to wax lyrical, as this would turn into an essay!).
- Trump was much stronger than in the first debate; Clinton was much weaker (I’m not going to call them “Donald” and “Hilary”; they’re not my friends). Things were close enough that both sides could (and have) claimed a win. My feeling: Clinton just edged it due to the occasional odd moment out of Trump’s mouth, even though Trump’s best moments were probably slightly better than Clinton’s.
- Trump came out with some bizarrely inept statements. For example, when challenged on running mate Mike Pence’s view on Syria which gainsaid Trump’s own stated opinion, the sensible thing to do would be to say, ‘Mike and I disagree on that point, but he is an independent, free-thinker who says it as he sees it. And that intellectual honesty and boldness is what we need, and is one of the reasons I asked him to become my running mate’. But what Trump actually did was make a weird dismissive noise and gesture, and bluster through saying that he disagreed with Pence. WTF!?
- What was also striking was how Trump kept prowling the stage, often looming behind Clinton, very reminiscent of a wild beast stalking its prey. Very odd body-language indeed.
- He also missed a trick. In aggressively inviting four women along who have accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting them, he failed to follow through on this with full force during the debate.
- However, whilst not fully convincing (two wrongs don’t make a right), when he said that he merely said bad things, whereas Bill Clinton did bad things, he scored points. And when he asserted, with no contradiciton from his opponent, that Hilary backed her hubbie by attacking those women, this got Hilary Clinton looking very much unsettled.
- Clinton was not able to run rings around Trump on the policy front this time round. Trump more than held his own, from time-to-time stumping Clinton. Such was Clinton’s desperation, she several times resorted to glibly dismissing Trump’s comments by yelling, “Check out the fact checker on my site!”.
- Hilary Clinton had the same innane smile and head bobble as usual. She constantly gives the impression of a woman with no belief system or ideology who stands for nothing — except gaining power at all costs. Trump at least has chutzpah.
But the standout moment of the debate for me was the last question. An audience member, Karl Becker, asked the candidates what they admire about each other. Both Trump and Clinton immediately became sensible and humble. Everyone has applauded Mr. Becker for his question. But for me, it left a serious sour taste. Why? Because it showed that all the mud-slinging and low blows of the previous ninety minutes, indeed, several months, is an unneeded sham. Politics truly is becoming a crummy reality TV show. And it really needn’t. And for the health of our democracy, it mustn’t.
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry
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